Iron Dome Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 23, 2021
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. TLAIB. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this supplemental.

I will not support an effort to enable and support war crimes, human rights abuses, and violence.

We cannot continue talking only about Israeli's need for safety at a time when Palestinians are living under a violent apartheid system and are dying from what Human Rights Watch has said are war crimes.

We should also be talking about the Palestinian need for security from Israeli attacks. We must be consistent in our commitment to human life, period. Everyone deserves to be safe there.

The bill claims to be ``a replenishment'' for weapons apartheid Israel used in a crisis it manufactured when it attacked worshippers at one of the most holiest Islamic locations, al-Aqsa Mosque, committing, again, numerous war crimes.

Yet, $1 billion in American taxpayer dollars that my colleagues want to give represents, to me, an absurd and unjustifiable 140 times increase to U.S. funding for the Iron Dome.

I firmly believe our country must oppose selling weapons to anyone anywhere without human rights law compliance.

The Israeli Government is an apartheid regime--not my words, the words of Human Rights Watch and Israel's own human rights organization B'Tselem.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues: Please stand with me in supporting human rights for all.

I include in the Record this Human Rights Watch article. [From BBC News, Aug. 23, 2021]

Israeli Strikes on Gaza High-Rises May Be War Crimes--Human Rights Watch

No-one was hurt in the attacks, but a report by the campaign group says dozens of families were left homeless.

The Israeli military said Palestinian militant groups were using the towers for military purposes and turning civilians inside into human shields.

But HRW said it had not provided evidence to support those allegations.

At least 256 people were killed in Gaza, according to the United Nations, and 13 people were killed in Israel during 11 days of fierce fighting.

It began after weeks of spiralling Israeli-Palestinian tension in East Jerusalem which culminated in clashes at a holy site revered by both Muslims and Jews. Hamas--the militant Islamist group which rules Gaza--began firing rockets after warning Israel to withdraw from the site, triggering retaliatory air strikes.

Between 11 and 15 May, Israeli strikes destroyed the Hanadi, Jawhara, Shorouk, and Jala towers in Gaza City.

In each case, the Israeli military warned tenants of impending attacks, allowing for their evacuation, according to HRW's report.

Israeli authorities said the buildings housed offices of Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups, including the headquarters of certain units and military intelligence. One tower included offices for ``the most valuable Hamas technological equipment'' for use against Israel, it says.

HRW's investigation was based on interviews with 18 Palestinians who witnessed the strikes or were affected by them, along with analysis of videos and photographs.

It found no evidence that members of militant groups involved in military operations had a current or long-term presence in any of the towers at the time they were attacked.

Even if there were such a presence, the report says, the attacks appeared to cause foreseeably disproportionate harm to civilian property.

The strike on the 12-storey Jala Tower, which housed the offices of the Associated Press (AP) news agency and the Al Jazeera broadcasting network, provoked widespread outrage.

In June, Israel's ambassador to the US told AP executives that the building was being used by Hamas to develop an electronic jamming system against the Israeli military's Iron Dome missile defence system.

But the AP's executive editor said it had never had any indication that Hamas militants might be in the tower.

``The apparently unlawful Israeli strikes on four high-rise towers in Gaza City caused serious, lasting harm for countless Palestinians who lived, worked, shopped, or benefitted from businesses based there,'' said Richard Weir, HRW's crisis and conflict researcher. ``The Israeli military should publicly produce the evidence that it says it relied on to carry out these attacks.''

In response to HRW's report, the Israeli military told the BBC: ``Hamas and the other terror organisations deliberately and unlawfully embed their military assets in densely populated civilian areas, in order to make it more difficult for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to attack their military assets.''

``The assets Hamas tried to hide inside these multi-storey buildings . . . were often of particularly high military value, and successfully striking them was of strategic importance to the IDF,'' it added.

The military stressed that it provided ``significant advance warnings and took efforts to ensure civilians had evacuated'' in all four cases.

HRW has published two other reports on the conflict that accused both sides of carrying out attacks that apparently amount to war crimes.

The first said an investigation into three Israeli strikes that killed 62 civilians found no evidence of military targets nearby, while the second said the firing of 4,000 unguided rockets and mortars towards Israeli cities and towns by Palestinian militants constituted indiscriminate attacks on civilians. Both the Israeli military and Hamas denied the accusations.